Thursday, April 16, 2009


Usually when I write, as when I read, I like specifics. Details create the movie in my head that makes everything so tangible, so familiar. Forgive me if I'm scant on details today -- I'm trying not to out anyone, and I'm not feeling too writerly at the moment. Today is more about processing an epiphany than setting a scene.

I've been enjoying work lately because I've been inventing, thinking, crafting... mental Pilates, and at work my core feels tight, you know? I'm so much stronger at work than home. My job is about teaching learning, teaching teaching, learning teaching, learning learning... my job is about what it means to interact with people and information. The students I teach are not "mine," as I don't have classes per se, but I work with everyone on a project-by-project basis, alongside the classroom teachers. Lately I've been particularly enjoying a project with kids that involves all that good stuff, and I've watched their eyes shoot fireworks when things connected, and I've worked hard to cast a critical glance at my own self when I things didn't so that I could improve the project.

One student raised his hand and struggled to find the patience to wait for me to come over and listen to a question. The question began, "What if... what if... what if... what... what... um... what if ... what if..." The same student showed great articulation earlier, and, following the bout of impatience I had just seen, I assumed I was being joked with when I heard the stammer. I felt a little annoyed, and I sighed. Finally we got down to the question -- a really, really good question -- and I tossed back more questions to prompt a dialogue. We volleyed questions and ideas until we were both talking faster and faster, and we were both smiling. I told a classroom teacher, "Wow, I really enjoyed chatting with that child about the project." What the teacher said next reminded me of the student's name. A giant AHA moment flashed through my brain!!!!!

I had heard of this student before. I had heard a name referenced, in fact, way back, and it was associated with less familiar things back then. Wait! I wanted to back up, start all over. I wanted to replay the entire exchange we'd had, I wanted to NOT sigh about the long stammering moment, I wanted to remember exactly how much eye contact we'd had... I wanted to hug this student, who I know struggled once in noticeable ways, who I know "speaks a little French," who asks great questions, who charmed me today, who I get to work with again more this week, and who proved I am not, after all, entirely hopeless when I think about my own child and school.

You cannot compare people, we're all snowflakes, but a kindred soul is something you can't help but recognize.

There was more like that at school today -- more examples of kids who overcame things, found good doctors or medication or outlets or whatever -- and this is a very high achieving school. I often get so buried in my own quagmire I forget that EVERYWHERE people have challenges, and that you can find stories of overcoming obstacles.

Today, I was teaching and learning, and so were the children. Today I was able to finally hear those of you who have been telling me that the rooster has time still, that who he is at age five is not necessarily who he's going to be forever, that some of you have seen your kids improve by hundreds of miles from where they were in preschool. I am still thinking about what a learning day it was.


pixiemama said...

oh, god.
thank you, you brilliant and beautiful snowflake. thank you.

and if you call that processing, and NOT good writing, i think you might want to read it again.


Niksmom said...

Yep, exactly what pixie said!